Former IRA Activists to Sue Boston College Over Tapes’ Release

Four former paramilitaries who contributed to the Belfast Project, Boston College’s oral-history project on the conflict in Northern Ireland, are preparing to sue the university, the BBC reported.

The lead plaintiff, according to the British news organization, is Richard O’Rawe, who alleges that the college breached its contract with him by not advising him that his testimony might be released by a court order.

Researchers had promised participants in the project that the taped interviews would remain confidential until after the deaths of the interviewees, but some of the interviews were released to the police in Northern Ireland after a lengthy legal battle.

Material from those tapes was used by the police in Northern Ireland in the arrest and questioning last month of Gerry Adams, the leader of the political party Sinn Fein, in connection with the 1972 killing of Jean McConville. Mr. Adams was released without charges.

Mr. O’Rawe, described as a former Irish Republican Army member, told the BBC that he had “entered into the project in good faith in order to contribute to an important historical narrative of the conflict.”

“My contribution never mentioned anything at all about the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville because I know nothing about it,” he said. “Despite that, the police were still able to get my recordings. They should never have been allowed to do that.”

Mr. O’Rawe said he had suffered intimidation, distress, and reputational damage as a result of the tapes’ release. He accused the college of misrepresentation, breach of confidentiality, and negligence for failing to advise him that what he had said on tape could be subject to court orders as part of other litigation.

“I blame Boston College for the mess,” he said, “and I want them held accountable for putting me in this position.”

There was no response from the college in the BBC’s report.

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